Sunday, January 31, 2010


The steeple of the church across from Julie's room is reflected in the windows of the care facility.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143.8 NIV

Thursday night I stayed with Julie and we had several long, difficult hours. No matter what we tried she received no relief from her discomfort. But in the morning the day was new and the sun painted the horizon pink and purple right outside Julie's window.

Friday, January 29, 2010


It wasn't chance.

We just don't do things that way. The seating in the van was wrong. So it must have been right. The passengers in the van were wrong. So they must have been right. It wasn't chance, though it was just an Algebra lesson and a few errands that seemed to make the difference.

The seating in the van was wrong. We have our own seats, but last Monday my family did a few errands in town before heading toward a Mennonite food store for lunch. Each time the door opened someone went in or out and one person moved over to make room for another. Brian and Aaron were in each other's seats; Julie was in my seat; Betsy was lying in the back. The seating almost seemed like chance, but it was so unusual that it couldn't have been.

The passengers in the van were wrong. Aaron didn't have to work, so they picked him up at his house on their way. Aaron rarely goes on birthday trips anymore. After the crash when Brian was holding Aaron's bleeding head, Aaron asked where they were and what they were doing. "But I don't go on birthday trips," he said.

I, on the other hand, do. But I had been tutoring Algebra and had planned to meet the family later in the day. After the crash Logan wandered around the van in a daze. Then he stopped and looked through the window at LIbby. He had a horrified look on his face. "Where's Amy?" he asked. Aaron was along and I wasn't. It wasn't chance.

It wasn't chance. It was purposeful. But I don't understand it. I don't understand why I was the one person who wasn't in the vehicle Monday. I guess I don't have to understand; I know that God had his hands on us. He nudged one person over and then another. He scheduled an Algebra lesson. He set His limits. He allowed it. He is not chance.

Mom was sitting in the front passenger seat. Aaron was directly behind her and Logan was behind Aaron. Julie was beside Aaron in the middle and Brian was on the far side of Julie. Libby sat in the middle of the second seat beside Logan and Naomi. Betsy was in the third bench back and Dad was driving.

Photo credits: Logan

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day nine

When I got home Monday night the first thing I saw was an absolutely pleasing arrangements of lilies and red roses from Arlene and her family. I had a little more time and energy for pictures Tuesday and the flowers were my first subject. When I returned home from the hospital late Tuesday night, my Mom had placed the arrangement in my bedroom for me to enjoy.

Our friend Kristen organized a schedule for meals and household help. Tuesday morning I found two of Logan's shirts that needed buttons and a pair of scissors, needle, thread and the button box. Our neighbor Bernice sewed on the missing buttons. She also cooked oatmeal for Naomi, ironed dresses and jumpers, packaged extra baked goods for the freezer, and scrubbed our stove.

The steeple of the church next door is Julie's view from her hospital bed. It's the most attractive landscape in the neighborhood and the only thing Julie can see from where she is stuck flat on her back in bed. While Betsy had a procedure in the afternoon (she had 600cc of blood removed from near her lung), I slipped over to see Julie in a building a block or two from the main hospital. I arrived to hold her hand during an uncomfortable time of poking and prodding. She has developed two infections as a result of being bed-bound in the hospital.

After the nurses left, we dried tears and Julie opened a gift from Aunt Carolyn.

It was sock day. Betsy received a pair of pink socks.

Photo credit: Logan
I haven't been able to spend much time with Julie and I am missing my roommate. When I returned home Tuesday night I was wishing I would find Julie up in our room waiting to tell me about her day.

Julie's windowsill displays flowers and balloons. Brian dropped Mom off at Julie's room to stay the night with her, and then he and I went back to the main campus to pick up Logan and tell Betsy and Dad good-night. We took advantage of a diversion with the pizza-guy to slip by the front desk without answering a bunch of questions. Betsy and Brian took a stroll down the hospital halls before we headed for home.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Betsy opening a package from Aunt Carolyn.

I felt like a little kid playing tag, who when he sees his opponent advancing with outstretched hand announces, "I quit. I don't want to play anymore."

Sunday night I didn't want to play anymore. I just wanted to sit down and cry. But by God's grace, I kept going. We are going to win.

Betsy modeling her multi-colored socks.

Aaron spent the day at the dentist and the doctor's office. He had his stitches removed and his face looks fantastic. He can open his right eye now and see through it, though his vision is still blurry.

Julie had an x-ray yesterday. They will compare it with the x-ray they took last week. It looks like she will be playing this game for a long time. She's concerned that her friends will forget about her lying in bed.

Naomi and Logan are missing time with and attention from their parents and older siblings. The wound on Naomi's elbow looks like it may be infected. She has an appointment with a specialist later this week.

I was with Betsy so long I finally borrowed a pair of her socks because my feet stunk. My outfit didn't exactly match, but standards of dress at the hospital aren't the highest.

We were preparing for Betsy to come home yesterday. Naomi even made a welcome home sign. But she ended up staying so that they can perform a procedure Tuesday. Her broken ribs may have caused bleeding in her lung cavity, which looked like pneumonia on the x-ray.

The doctors felt Betsy's disappointment and after we shared about our trouble Sunday night with a nurse who wanted to enforce a no overnight visitors rule, he arranged for Betsy to be transferred to a private room. Dad was able to stay with her (Mom stayed with Julie) and I came home for a shower and rest.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Libby reads aloud from the Psalms as Betsy goes to sleep Sunday evening.

"Lots of people must be praying for me," Betsy said before she went to sleep in the evening. Sunday morning she vomited her pain medicine. When I arrived at the hospital I reminded her that it was Sunday.

"You know what that means?" I asked. "People all over are going to go to church. Somebody's going to get up and say, 'Is there any prayer requests [sic]? Then somebody in the back is going to raise their hand and then they're going to pray for us. I think you're going to have a good day!"

We had a good day and a good night. Betsy slept comfortably for the first time in a week.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Brian spent Saturday with Betsy in her new room. Betsy was moved from ICU to a regular room where she was able to rest without as many interruptions. My friend Amanda and I gave Betsy a real shower and washed her hair. Later Brian and I walked with Betsy all the way down the hall to the nurses' station and back.

~Hurts & Hallelujahs~
  • A quarter of Aaron's back lower molar is missing. Our dentist prescribed a higher dose of pain medication for him.
  • Everyday bodily functions become a big deal when bodies are messed up by trauma and medication.
  • As physical bodies heal we are beginning to deal with our emotions as well.
  • Betsy moved from ICU and got rid of some of her wires and tubes in the process.
  • Mom, Dad, Aaron, Logan and Naomi ate a meal together around our dining-room table.
  • The swelling in Naomi's hand has subsided and she doesn't have as much pain in her elbow.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Julie and Betsy's request was granted. Julie dropped by Betsy's room in ICU for two minutes Friday afternoon as she was transfered to the rehab center down the road. Aaron, who was released to go home later in the afternoon, walked down for the reunion as well.

"That's the best thing that's happened to you isn't it?" I asked Betsy after everyone left. She smiled and nodded "yes."

Oh, and, they wore matching clothes to the reunion. The theme was a geometric combination of lines and diamonds in shades of gray and aqua on a white background. I think it's the first time Julie, Betsy and Aaron have ever matched!

Friday, January 22, 2010

ICU spa

Betsy and Amy comb Betsy's hair Thursday afternoon. Betsy's hair is normally tangly and she had a huge, awful, terrible snarl after her ambulance rides. Our friend Kendra spent over an hour combing before the nasty thing was conquered.

Betsy received spa treatment in ICU Thursday night. God sent her a nurse who was eager to wash Betsy's long hair. The nurse spread a trash bag under Betsy's head to catch the water and then used cups of water and globs of shampoo and conditioner to clean Betsy's hair. It made Betsy relax so much that we had to remind her to breath deeply so that her machine didn't start beeping because her oxygen level was low. Both Julie and Betsy had been bothered by their dirty hair and both had their hair washed on Thursday, which was a blessing.

Julie talks to Betsy on the phone from her new private room. When a bed is available Julie will be transfered to a next-door facility where we expect she will stay for at least a week. Aaron may be released from the hospital to come home today, if he can control his pain by oral medication.

In other news, Betsy's doctors and nurses are concerned by her fever. She's had ice packs under her arms and a fan blowing on her at times to try to reduce the fever. She may have a touch of pneumonia. It's important that her pain is controlled enough that she can breath deeply to keep her lungs open and clear.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Betsy's nurse Samantha heard that she loved color. She brightened Betsy's room by decorating her board and making a paper star (Betsy says she's going to ask Samantha how she made the star). Betsy later sent her colorful star to the hospital across the city where the woman involved in the accident is recovering. Samantha made Betsy an even bigger star.

Naomi and Logan were allowed to visit Tuesday evening. On Wednesday night Brian wheeled Mom up in a wheelchair. She visited Aaron and Julie and then settled in a chair to spend the night with Betsy. Dad also spent the night at the hospital and Julie's friend Sarah stayed with her. God granted me five and a half hours of non-interrupted, in-my-own-bed sleep last night. I feel good!

Julie and Betsy and I laid on our beds and talked just like we're used to doing. Well, not quite, but Betsy was able to call Julie and talk to her while they laid in their beds. I took pictures of Betsy to show to Julie and of Julie to show Betsy.

Julie's room has the most flowers. The people from Dad's work sent arrangements for each of the invalids. They even sent silk flowers for Betsy which made it to ICU. The little girl Julie babysits for sent her a huge lollypop. Julie called to tell her thank-you and they both were excited to hear the other's voice. The arrangement in the foreground was sent by Joel and Judith and Kaelyn. Julie also received flowers from her friends in the accounting department at SVSU and from friends who visited on Tuesday.

Julie and Dad have a meeting at eight this morning to talk with the appropriate people about options for Julie's extended care. She will be spending weeks in bed.

Aaron was moved from ICU yesterday. He is no longer on the IV and is allowed to eat and move as he chooses. His right eye has been swollen shut but the nurses are giving him eye drops to help it heal. When Brian saw Aaron last night he said that Aaron finally seemed like himself--he was in bed talking about the details of the accident.

When someone in scrubs walks in Betsy's room, I see a doctor or a nurse. Betsy sees a friend. The nurses have been compassionate and helpful and Betsy has lots of new friends. In fact Samantha stayed past her shift Wednesday evening to listen to an O.Henry story with Betsy on her ipod and then left her own ipod charger for Betsy to use.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This night

I went to sleep last night listening to Fernando Ortega sing "Jesus King of Angels,"

Jesus King of angels heaven's light
Shine Your face upon this house tonight
Let no evil come into my dreams
Light of heaven keep me in your peace
Remind me how you made dark spirit's flee
And spoke Your power to the raging sea
And spoke Your mercy to a sinful man
Remind me Jesus this is what I am

The universe is vast beyond the stars
But you are mindful when a sparrow falls
And mindful of the anxious thoughts
That find me, surround me and bind me

With all my heart I love you Sovereign Lord
Tomorrow let me love you even more
And rise to speak the goodness of Your name
Until I close my eyes and sleep again

Jesus king of angels heaven's light
Hold my hand and keep me through this night.

Betsy's first nurse Jeff in ICU Monday night called her "the sparrow," because God's eye is on the sparrow.


I need my sisters.

Julie, Betsy and I are sisters. We lie on our beds and talk. We make sure Betsy's outfit matches on Sunday morning. We read Pride and Prejudice out-loud and then watch the movie version--all six hours of it. We bake cookies together and when something goes wrong we fix it.

I feel like my sisters are miles and miles away and I am waiting for them to return so that we can fix the problem. But they are not miles away. They are stuck in beds on two different floors of the hospital and I go up and down from one sister to the other, wishing I could fix the problem.

I want my sisters back.

So, thank-you to everyone who has been my "sister"--to those of you who've prayed, held my brother and sisters' hands, sat with my mother, fed me soup and let us cry.

I needed you.


We feel the love of hundreds and hundreds of people from neighbors to friends on other continents. Every need has been met, and beyond. We have enough food that we could have a potlock! If you would like to help but haven't had a chance yet, don't worry. After we measure time in minutes we will begin measuring it in hours and then days and then weeks and then months.

It will be days before Julie is able to leave her bed to go to the bathroom. Aaron and Betsy are still in ICU. Everyone else is recovering "at home." Naomi has a gash in her elbow that will have to be examined to see if there is foreign material still lodged inside. My Mom is feeling better--she feels like she's eighty-years-old instead of the hundred that she felt earlier.

I returned home yesterday afternoon after almost continually staying with one of my siblings from the moment I arrived at the first hospital mid-day yesterday. I meant to sleep a few hours and return to the hospital to stay with Betsy for the night. But Dad and LIbby were able to stay and God granted me much needed rest at home.

I have been living in a cloud of prayers. I didn't even need words Monday and I couldn't verbalize my prayers--I was living them. But I felt hundreds of people lifting my family to God. Monday as I held Aaron's hand moments before they wheeled him to surgery all I could pray was, "Lord Jesus please watch over Aaron during surgery." I would have come unglued had more been necessary. Our friends and family did the rest of the praying for me during the first twenty-four hours.

Tuesday highlights:
~Betsy is wearing a pair of multi-color socks. Hospital walls are drab, regulations can be strict and Betsy loves color.
~Betsy's neck collar was removed and she's been able to suck on ice chips.
~A positive report that Betsy may not have to have surgery for her kidney.
~Mom's friends have cared for her and the younger children at home.
~We found the cell phone that was momentarily lost under the car seat.
~Naomi was able to get a liquid antibiotic so she didn't have to struggle to swallow pills.
~Julie's friends, three daughters of the missionaries with whom she spent two months in Africa this summer, called and made her feel loved.

~God will send Betsy color that the nurses approve and appreciate.
~God will give Aaron a bit of pleasure today (yesterday morning was tough and in the afternoon he was highly drugged because of the pain).
~God will give Julie peace as she thinks about the future.
~It sounds silly, but I would like to take some pictures today. It's my therapy along with writing.
~Joel and his family and all my aunts and uncles and cousins. We wish they were here.
~The important things like whether Betsy needs surgery for her kidney and relief from pain and clearness of mind and...
~The other person who was involved in the accident. We don't know anything except he also was transported to a hospital.
~Strength and wisdom and God-honoring relationships with everyone we contact.

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My side of the story...

Amy holding Aaron's hand in the emergency room after he was transfered to the larger medical facility and before he had surgery.

"Amy there's just been a terrible accident." Julie cried through the phone. "It's awful. There's blood everywhere and Aaron's really hurt!"

Through the chaos I learned that 911 had been called, as far as Julie knew everyone was alive and the ambulances would take them to the local hospital.

I was the only one home. The remaining members of my family, except my brother who lives in Pennsylvania, where on a trip in celebration of Brian's birthday when a vehicle ran a stop sign and hit our fifteen passenger van. The van rolled. Julie called me seconds after calling 911.

A friend drove me to the hospital while I called out-of-town family members. Of the nine people in the vehicle, Dad and Brian were relatively unhurt. Julie and Brian were transported by ambulance to one hospital while the rest of the family members were taken to the closer hospital.

After I arrived at the hospital and saw and talked to all of my family members who were there, I rode in an ambulance with Betsy forty-five minutes to the larger medical center. Later Aaron and then Julie were transported to the same hospital. The rest of the family was eventually released from the first hospital.

I am now in the ICU sitting beside Aaron's bed. He had plastic surgery for deep cuts he sustained to his face. Betsy is in a room next door. She has small lacerations to her kidney and liver as well as three broken ribs. Julie is on the next floor and Dad is with her. She has a broken pelvis. The rest of the family is recovering at home.

And some day perhaps I will write some of the rest of the story...the little details and the big details that show the evidence of a caring God. But now the nurse is hinting that I should try to rest too...

Betsy preparing to be transfered forty-five minutes from the hospital where she was first taken to the larger medical facility.

Julie after she arrived at the larger medical facility from a hospital an hour away.

Monday, January 18, 2010


please pray for my family


There was fog and the evergreen trees and wispy weeds were frosted as we drove home from church after the Sunday morning service. It was a strange beauty.

After dinner Aaron and I took a Sunday afternoon drive and I was delighted to find patches of fog and frost. My photos did not turn out as I had expected, though. When I loaded them on the computer and adjusted the settings I was surprised at the intensity of mood they represented.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January thaw

Warmer temperatures Friday afternoon melted snow piles, causing puddles in the barnyard and lane.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Betsy sucking on a Blow Pop while spinning roving into yarn.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hands on

The most recent assignment for photography class was to create images of hands, including dirty hands. When we met for class Tuesday afternoon, Brian and Libby hadn't completed that part of the assignment. So Brian grabbed a pair of dirty gloves and a butcher knife and Libby grabbed a camera and a kitchen stool. And they got their photo.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


We talked about stereotypes in the high school English classroom where I subbed the Friday before Christmas break. After we read aloud a short story about stereotypes, I shared from my experience.

"Often people ask me if I'm Amish," I said. "Sometimes I feel like they're looking over my shoulder trying to see my buggy in the parking lot. I'm not Amish. I drive a car just like everybody else."

A few minutes later the conversation shifted to the upcoming holidays. "I don't like shopping," someone said.

"Neither do I," I said. "I did my Christmas shopping online."

Then they knew I really wasn't Amish.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No snow day

There's something depressing about listening to a list of school cancelations during first hour class. I subbed Friday in what seemed to be the one district in the area that didn't close due to inclement weather.

Monday, January 11, 2010


"Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready
to have somebody click the shutter." ~Ansel Adams

(Sometimes that makes me late for Sunday School.)